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Scottish Premiership

Fir Park (ATT 7,201) 3rd May 2014 - Kick off 15:00

Motherwell Motherwell vs St Johnstone St J'stone

Motherwell 2

L Ainsworth (21)
S McManus (36)

ft

St J'stone 1

D Mackay (27)

SPFL: Stephen McManus heads winner as Motherwell beat St Johnstone 2-1

Last Updated: 03/05/14 6:58pm

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Stephen McManus: Seals victory for Motherwell

Stephen McManus: Seals victory for Motherwell

A contentious header from Stephen McManus proved decisive as Motherwell beat St Johnstone 2-1 to move to keep the pressure up on second-placed Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership.

The game was an even contest to begin with but the home side slowly began to assert their authority with James McFadden and Iain Vigurs both forcing early saves from Alan Mannus.

And Motherwell got a deserved breakthrough in the 21st minute after some neat play from former Everton striker McFadden.

The 31-year-old fed Lionel Ainsworth, who somehow managed to rifle the ball past Mannus and into the top left corner of the net from a very acute angle on the right.

But St Johnstone hit back just six minutes later, David Wotherspoon crossing for David Mackay to score his third goal of the season with a header.

Motherwell re-established their lead before the end of the half with a header of their own when Iain Vigurs crossed for former Celtic defender Stephen McManus to head the ball goalwards.

His header was cleared away, but after pausing for thought, referee Kevin Clancy ruled that the ball had crossed the line.

Michael O'Halloran and Wotherspoon had early chances in the second half but were unable to trouble Lee Hollis in the Motherwell goal.

Saints leading goalscorer Stevie May went close with a header as the half wore on but was also unable to find the target.

Henri Anier, a second-half substitute for McFadden, had an opportunity to extend the home side's advantage but saw his left-footed effort from outside the area blocked.

Gary Miller almost grabbed a point for Saints with a long-range effort but Hollis was equal to the task as Motherwell held on to stay third and move a point behind Aberdeen in second.

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Matches

Table

Scottish Premiership

Scottish Premiership
Pos Team P Pts
1 Celtic 13 29
2 Inverness CT 14 29
3 Dundee United 14 28
4 Hamilton Academical 14 27
5 Aberdeen 14 25
6 Dundee 14 20
7 Kilmarnock 14 20
8 St Johnstone 14 17
9 Partick Thistle 13 15
10 Motherwell 14 10
11 St Mirren 14 8
12 Ross County 14 8